Steelers get back on track with win
‘‘This is ... a great achievement for the team and the union.’’
The Steelers, the Heat and the under19s gave Counties Manukau rugby fans reasons for some fist pumping.
The Steelers snapped a four game losing streak in the Mitre 10 Cup with a 33-14 win over Hawke’s Bay at ECOLight Stadium on Sunday, a win that eased the distress of their 78-5 Ranfurly Shield thrashing at the hands of Canterbury four days earlier.
Defending champions, the Heat scorched the Auckland Storm 36-12 at Bell Park, Pakuranga to remain the only unbeaten team after three rounds of the Farah Palmer Cup.
And the Counties Manukau under-19’s, lead captain Jamie Orr, brought home the bacon by retaining the New Zealand under-19 rugby tournament’s Michael Jones Trophy for the third successive year.
They retained their championship title beating Hawke’s Bay 20-3 in the semi final before holding out a fast finishing Southland 34-31 in a tense final at Owen Delany Park in Taupo last Sunday.
It’s the third time in a row that the baby Steelers have won the Michael Jones Trophy, a feat campaign manager Nick Leger says is a wonderful achievement.
‘‘This is the third win in a row for Counties Manukau, a great achievement for the team and the union. They’re now undefeated in three years.
‘‘Beating Otago on day one was a highlight. They were seeded one in the championship section and were favourites to win the trophy. We were ranked fourth.’’
Leger says Papakura’s Asomua twins, Fuifatu and Suetena were outstanding in the finals.
‘‘Fuifatu, a No.8, scored two tries while Suetena was a constant presence in the scrums, at the breakdowns and in his support play. Vice captain Joshua Baverstock also had a great tournament. His general play was outstanding along with his kicking and tackling.’’
The Steelers realise they can’t afford another bad at the office in any of their four remaining Mitre 10 Cup matches starting with the Bay of Plenty in Tauranga on Sunday.
A 33-14 home win over Hawke’s Bay last Sunday breathed new confidence into their campaign after four straight losses. They remain last on the premiership table where relegation is a concern.
The Heat, who face Canterbury at Massey Park, Papakura on Saturday at midday, are at the other end of the spectrum.
Their 36-12 whipping of Auckland leaves them unbeaten after three matches. They lead the standings by six points.